- 16 (240 g) large egg yolks
- Nonstick vegetable oil spray
- 1½ cups (300 g) sugar, divided
- 12 (360 g) large egg whites
- 1⅔ cups (200 g) all-purpose flour; if making chocolate version, decrease by 6 Tbsp. (50 g)
- ½ cup (50 g) Dutch-process cocoa powder (for chocolate genoise; optional)
Place racks in upper and lower thirds of oven; preheat to 400°. Lightly coat two 18x13" rimmed baking sheets with nonstick spray and line with parchment paper, leaving a slight overhang on longer sides. Smooth to eliminate air pockets. Lightly coat parchment with nonstick spray. Beat egg yolks in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment on medium-high speed until light and frothy. With the motor running, gradually stream in ¾ cup sugar and beat until super voluminous and light and mixture leaves a very slowly dissolving ribbon when it falls off the end of the whisk and back into the bowl, about 4 minutes. Rub a small dab between your fingers—it should be grit-free (this means all the sugar is dissolved). Scrape yolk mixture into a large wide bowl.
Thoroughly wash and dry mixer bowl and whisk, then beat egg whites and salt on medium-high until frothy. Increase speed to high and gradually add remaining ¾ cup sugar in a steady stream. Beat until meringue is glossy and forms medium peaks, about 3 minutes; beat in vanilla. (Do not overbeat—it will look dry and curdled—this makes it difficult to fold in and yields a dense genoise).
If making chocolate genoise, sift flour and cocoa powder over egg yolk mixture (or just flour if making vanilla). Vigorously fold in with a large rubber spatula, running it down along bottom of bowl and lifting up through center and over the top as you rotate bowl. The mixture will seize up and thicken quite a bit. Add one-third of meringue and mix thoroughly to incorporate (this will lighten the batter). Gently fold in remaining meringue in 2 batches (err on the side of mixing less rather than more; it’s okay if a few streaks of batter remain).
Divide batter between prepared baking sheets and spread evenly with a large offset spatula, working into corners. Bake, rotating pans from top to bottom and front to back halfway through, until top is golden and center springs back when gently pressed, 10–14 minutes. Let cool.
To cut out rounds, fit a 9"-diameter cake or springform pan into a corner of the baking sheet and work a small paring knife around pan to cut out a full circle.
Move cake pan directly next to the first cutout and cut around it again to make a partial circle. It should be about two-thirds of a full round.
Move pan again and cut a third partial circle using as much of the remaining cake as possible. This will be the smallest.
Align the two partial circles so they form a 9" round. Trim overlap so cake pieces fit together.
Save scraps for another use (trifle!). Repeat cutting process with second cake to make 2 more rounds. When you're done, you should have four 9" rounds (2 whole rounds and 2 formed from multiple pieces).
Do Ahead: Genoise can be baked 1 day ahead. Store tightly wrapped at room temperature, or freeze up to 1 week. Thaw at room temperature before using.
Genoise is a classic sponge cake enriched with butter and egg yolk and, with its mild flavor, is often used as a base for European-style tortes and cream-filled cakes. To that end, it’s nearly always brushed with a flavored syrup, which helps keep it moist and adds a complementary flavor to the finished cake. While genoise isn’t hard to make, it takes careful attention to detail as well as a light touch: fold the flour into the batter gently or you’ll end up with a dense cake.
- 6 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 egg yolk, at room temperature
- 3/4 cup (149g) Baker's Special Sugar, superfine sugar, or granulated sugar, divided
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup (90g) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 4 tablespoons (57g) butter, melted and slightly cooled
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract or almond extract, or 1 teaspoon of each
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two 9" round cake pans, three 8" round cake pans, or one 10" x 15" jelly roll pan with parchment. Or grease and flour the bottom (but not the sides) of the pans.
In a heatproof bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg yolk, 1/2 cup (99g) of the sugar, and the salt.
Place the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, making sure the bottom of the bowl isn’t touching the water.
Whisk the mixture constantly until the sugar has dissolved and it's just warm to the touch, about 110°F. Remove the bowl from the saucepan.
Perfect your technique
What does "ribbon stage" mean?
Using an electric mixer with the whip attachment, beat the mixture on medium-high speed until it becomes very light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. It should double in volume, be lighter in color, and be very thick the batter should fall in ribbons from the beater, mounding atop the remaining batter before gradually being absorbed.
In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, and remaining 1/4 cup (50g) sugar.
Using very low speed on an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or a hand whisk, gently fold the flour mixture into the eggs about a third at a time.
In a small bowl, stir together the butter and extract. Mix about a third of the flour/egg mixture into the butter, then fold that back into the remaining batter.
Spoon or pour the batter into the prepared pan or pans, smoothing the surface. (This recipe makes about 600g of batter. If dividing into three 8” pans, use 200g of batter for each for two 9” pans, use 300g of batter for each.)
Bake the cake(s) for 15 to 20 minutes for three 8” pans or a jelly roll pan for two 9” pans, bake for 20 to 25 minutes. The finished cake will be light gold in color and spring back when touched lightly in the center.
Remove the cake(s) from the oven and cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Run an offset spatula or knife around the edges of the pan before unmolding and transferring to a rack to cool completely.
Once completely cool, remove the parchment paper from the bottom of the cake(s), then fill and frost as desired. The cake pictured above is filled with lightly sweetened whipped cream and sliced strawberries, topped with additional whipped cream and raspberries, and garnished with lemon zest and a sprig of thyme.
Store leftover cake, well wrapped, at room temperature for up to a day. Genoise will dry very quickly when left on its own it's best to fill and finish it as soon as possible. Store any cake topped and/or filled with perishable ingredients in the refrigerator, well wrapped, for several days.
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PRE-HEAT THE OVEN AND PREP
The very first step is to preheat the oven to 350ºF/175ºC. I highly recommend measuring out all of the ingredients before getting started, which is what kitchen folk do. Having your mise en place (a French term for “set-up”) ready makes kitchen work so much more pleasant. Since there are only four ingredients, this won’t take long, but there’s also the mould to prep.
I like using a round 9″ cake pan when making genoise, but you can use whatever you like. Grease your mould of choice with butter, line the bottom with parchment paper, and dust the remainder with flour. If you’ve never lined anything with parchment paper, it’s a simple matter of tracing the mould onto the parchment paper and cutting it out. This ensures that the bottom doesn’t stick. It might seem like a pain but I’ve broken too many cakes to know that this step shouldn’t be skipped.
The Genoise Recipe
Baking time: 20 -22 minutes
4 large eggs (room temperature)
Genoise Cake – Genoise Recipe step by step guide
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
2. Butter and flour 1 9” cake pan.
3. Measure out the ingredients.
4. Melt butter in saucepan over low heat. Set aside to cool.
5. Using electric beaters, gradually beat eggs, sugar, vanilla, and salt in a large mixing bowl for approximately 5 minutes until mixture triples in volume and forms a ribbon.
6. Fold flour into mixture one third at a time until just incorporated.
7. Fold 1 cup of batter into melted butter and fold until combined. Fold this mixture into reserved batter until combined.
8. Pour batter into prepared baking pan. Smooth evenly.
9. Bake 20 - 22 minutes or until top springs back to touch. Cake should be lightly browned and just begun to show a faint line of shrinkage from the edges of the pan.
10. Remove from oven and let stand in pan for 10 min. It will shrink slightly more from the edges.
11. Run a knife around the edges of the pan and reverse on a cooling rack. Allow to cool for an hour or so.
My French husband Gildas laments the fact that here in the States it is impossible to order a simple Genoise based cake for dessert at a restaurant. Everything is chocolate this or chocolate that. A genoise cake is a light delicious dessert to finish your meal.
The Genoise cake is thought to have originated in Genoa and is the sponge cake base for many French desserts and Italian desserts. To create other famous French desserts try thiscreme-brulee-recipe and Grand Marnier souffle recipe.
There are so many delicious French desserts to try. Check out my other easy to use French dessert recipes. .
Helpful Food articles:
Are French menus confusing? A guide to France food restaurant menus for eating out in France with confidence.
Food is a major highlight of the culture of France.
Wine is important to a French meal. See the French wine regions where these wines are grown.
Will you be eating a famous French dessert in Paris?
Why not shop first to get an appetite. the best shopping in Paris guide for you.
Powder Puffs: An Australian Classic
The funeral connection reminds me of a friend&aposs first encounter with "powder puffs", also known as "sponge kisses". She first came across this now rarely seen Australian country classic at a wake. So taken was she by the bite-sized soft puffy pillows of jam-and-cream filled sponge ensembles that she approached a member of the bereaved family saying: "I know this is really bad form, but what are these and can I have the recipe please?"
I cannot say that I behaved much better when I first discovered them at a baby shower. One taste of these delicate frivolities and good manners went out the window. Whilst everyone was busy &aposooh-ing&apos and &aposaah-ing&apos over the gifts, I proceeded to discreetly devour the entire lot on one of the tiered cake stands at one end of the buffet before moving on the second lot at the other end.
The following recipe was developed after rummaging through many old country women&aposs cookbooks and cuttings.
- Whisk the eggs until they're light and fluffy. Add the sugar and whisk it through.
- Take the bowl of mixture and place it above a pot of boiling water. Continue whisking until the mixture has warmed up slightly, then continue mixing away from the water until you've reached a ribbon like consistency. The mixture will still flow and form ribbons on itself (see text for a more detailed evaluation of this step and whether or not you really have to heat).
- Carefully fold in the flour to the egg mixture.
- Drizzle the butter into the mixture and fold it in as well, take care not to mix it too vigorously.
- Pour into a 24cm pan (if you want to create a large, but only a few cm high cake) which is lined with parchment paper on the bottom.
- Bake in a pre-heated oven at 180C for about 25 minutes until it is a light golden brown.
Whipping up whole eggs instead of egg whites
When making meringues, an Angel Food cake or some Eggnog you whip up egg whites, without the yolk. In those cases you’ll be told to definitely not add any egg yolk or it will break down the foam. However, for a Genoise you do add the egg yolk, why is that.
First of all, the foam you’ll be making for the Genoise will never be as firm and stiff as one you make for a meringue. An egg white can be whipped up so strongly that it will stay in its bowl, even when you put it upside down. However, these whipped eggs with sugar will never get to that stage. That doesn’t mean though that you cannot incorporate any air, it will just be less.
There are a few advantages of also adding egg yolks to the mixture. First of all, they create a richer cake since they add some fat to the cake. Overall this will create a richer, but more yellow cake. If you find a very white cake, it probably won’t contain the yolk.
Since the mixture is not as firm it can still rise in the oven. The heat will cause the air bubbles to expand. Since the mixture has not been fully saturated with air yet, it can still hold on to extra air. For cakes risen with egg whites only this tends to be a lot less. If you’ve made meringue before you will notice that most meringues barely, if at all, rise in the oven. They’re already as full with air as they can possibly hold on to!
A thin Genoise cake topped with whipped cream (flavoured with caramel) and walnuts pieces and chocolate chips, great combination.
Heating up whipped eggs
Many Genoise recipes call for heating the eggs and sugar either during the whole period of whipping, or for part of it. The reason for heating is that it will help denature the egg proteins which will again help it hold on to more air. Also, at higher temperatures sugar dissolves more easily into the eggs. However, you cannot really heat the mixture too much or it will cook the eggs.
Whereas some recipes call for whisking over hot water for the whole time until they’re super fluffy, others say you only have to heat the mixture at the start to about 40-45C before continuing whipping. We tried that last method. However, we noticed that the mixture doesn’t hold on to heat that well so that after less than a minute of removing it from the heat it had cooled down slightly again. We’re doubtful as to whether it actually helped.
A historical remainder?
It seems as if this step is a remainder of the days that we didn’t have electric mixers. It would have been very hard to incorporate enough air into these sponges. Anything to help hold on to and add extra air would have been welcome. Heat would have given just that extra bit of leverage to make it super foamy.
In our test though, we found that a slight heat just to remove the ‘cold’ from the ingredients (the eggs came straight from the fridge) was probably good enough. Would we use the step next time? Probably not, it’s just so much easier to leave them in a stand mixer for 10-15 minutes instead of standing next to a pan of boiling water.
Once the flour and butter have been mixed through the whipped eggs you should bake the cake immediately. Don’t leave it on the counter for too long. The batter just isn’t strong enough to hold on to the batter by itself. The air won’t disappear immediately but it will slowly disappear from the cake.
Once you place the cake in the oven the eggs will start to cook, causing the proteins to denature and form a more solid like structure. Also, the gluten and starch in the flour will cook, air will expand and moisture will evaporate. Together, this will make the cake rise slightly and then become strong enough to hold on to the air by itself.
My Genoise has turned out very dense, not at all light and airy!
There are various possible reasons for this and thus a few strategies you can use to solve it:
- Add less butter, especially if you’ve got a recipe with quite a lot of butter (like the one in this post). Butter tends to weigh down the mixture, making it harder to rise in the oven, but it can also cause more air escaping before you actually bake.
- You may have been too harsh when folding in the flour and melted butter.
- Your eggs may not have foamed up enough during whisking. Try adding a bit more sugar to firm up the foam a bit more.
Storing this hygroscopic cake
Most Genoise cakes are decorated completed with buttercream, glazes, icings or at least something that closes them off from the outside. One of the reasons for this may be that the Genoise is very hygroscopic. In other words, it seems to absorb moisture and become sticky quite easily, it’s at least what we saw happening to ours.
Meringues are known to be hygroscopic as well, both the sugar and cooked egg tend to absorb moisture. Since the Genoise contains a lot of sugar and egg whites as well a very similar mechanism is likely to be occurring here. Therefore, either coat it completely with a nice decoration or store it in an air tight container, then it won’t have any additional moisture to absorb!
To end with: a note on sponge vs. cake
Before writing this post, I had no idea that there’s a difference between a sponge and a cake. And actually, it seems to depend who you ask whether there is indeed a difference and what this difference is exactly.
A definition seems to be that sponges do not contain any fat whereas cake contain fat. However, a Genoise contains fat (in most cases that is) and is still often called a sponge. To make it more confusing, there seems to be something like a sponge cake as well, a combination of the two.
If you have another definition, let me know. Here in this article we’ve used cake, referring to both sponge and sponge cake, whichever you prefer.
Genoise Cake ?
This is one of the oldest known cake recipes out there, first mentions of it dating back as early as the 6th century AD! Fascinating! And we are still using it today, that is truly a classic.
Genoise cake dessert looks extremely simple, just three ingredients, if we take the most basic recipe, and yet, in the process of evolution of culinary arts, it’s become a base for countless other desserts.
Genoise cake most classic recipe as we know it uses only three ingredients, sugar, eggs and flour. And the fewer ingredients, the more important is the process of prepping and cooking them if we want to have a truly perfect texture and taste.
The same goes for the ingredient quality. That’s why when I make this cake – even though I usually make it as a base for some other dessert or at least add filling and decor later, I try to pick some of the best ingredients.
I use free range large eggs, finest sifted cake flour and confectioner’s sugar. I mix the eggs and the sugar for a long time so that they become almost foam-like. I sometimes beat the whites and the yolks separately, it gives a little difference, but the classic recipe suggest beating whole eggs.
Since it’s mostly used as a base for more complex cakes, once it’s baked, you can decorate it to your heart’s content. The simplest way is cream filling and topping and fresh fruit and berries, but there are countless other recipes out there!
Mary Berry’s Mokatines
A masterclass in how to turn a simple genoise sponge into something really special. Decorated with chopped nuts and coffee buttercream, these individual cakes are packed with flavour.
For the genoise sponge:
For the coffee icing:
For the crème beurre au moka:
For the fondant icing:
100g white ready-to-roll fondant icing
dark brown food colouring paste
You’ll also need:
shallow 18cm square cake tin
piping bag fitted with a No.7 star nozzle
Pre-heat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/350°F/Gas 4. Grease a shallow 18cm square cake tin and line the base with baking parchment.
For the genoise, gently melt the butter in a pan, then set to one side to cool slightly. Measure the eggs and sugar into a large bowl and whisk at full speed until the mixture is pale and mousse-like and thick enough so that a trail is left when the whisk is lifted from the mixture.
Sift the flours together into a bowl. Carefully fold half the flour into the egg mixture, gently pour half the cooled butter around the edge of the mixture and then fold in. Repeat with the remaining flour and butter. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin.
Bake in the oven for 35–40 minutes or until well risen and the top of the cake springs back when lightly pressed with a finger. Leave to cool in the tin for a few minutes then turn out, peel off the parchment and finish cooling on a wire rack.
To make the coffee icing, measure the butter into a small pan and gently heat until the butter has melted. Remove from the heat and stir in the coffee powder until dissolved. Add the icing sugar and beat until smooth and glossy. Set aside to thicken.
For the crème au beurre moka, measure the sugar and water into a small heavy-based pan. Heat very gently until the sugar has dissolved. Bring to the boil then boil steadily for 2–3 minutes until the syrup is clear and forms a slim thread when pulled apart between 2 teaspoons.
Put the egg yolks into a small bowl and give them a quick whisk to break them up. Pour the syrup in a thin stream over the yolks, whisking all the time until the mixture is thick and cold. In another bowl, cream the butter until very soft and gradually beat in the egg yolk mixture. Stir in the coffee essence to flavour. Spoon into a piping bag fitted with a No. 7 star nozzle.
To assemble, cut the cold cake in half horizontally and sandwich the slices together with the coffee buttercream. Trim the edges and cut the cake into 9 equal squares.
Heat the apricot jam in a pan, then pass through a sieve into a small bowl. Brush the sides of the cakes with apricot jam and press the chopped, toasted nuts around the sides.
Pipe tiny rosettes of crème au beurre moka around the top edges of the cakes, piping them closely together so the fondant icing doesn’t run off the top. Then pipe tiny rosettes around the bottom edges of the cakes.
For the fondant icing, beat the fondant icing with a wooden spoon until smooth. Gradually add the water and food colouring to make a coffee-coloured glaze. Carefully spoon the glaze into the centre of the tops of the cakes and leave to set.
The Best Vanilla Sponge Cake Recipe | Genoise
Yes, you can make vanilla sponge cake ahead of time. Keep it in the refrigerator, covered, up to 3 days, then frost with your favorite frosting and serve.
WHAT MAKES THIS VANILLA SPONGE CAKE SO AIRY?
What makes this sponge cake (Genoise) so soft and airy is the use of separated eggs. First we whip the egg whites, then add the egg yolks, this makes the cake very airy and spongy.
HOW CAN WE FROST THIS SPONGE CAKE?
There is plenty option to frost or decorate this sponge cake. You can cut the cake in half, spread whipped cream in the middle, top with some fresh fruits, then top with the second layer of cake and repeat the process with the top of the cake. You also can use chocolate buttercream to frost this cake, vanilla cream cheese frosting.
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